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Colombia Suspends Peace Talks After FARC Kidnaps Army General


Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos, center, speaks during a news conference in Bogota, Nov. 16, 2014.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos suspended peace talks with the country's largest rebel group after a general and two other people were kidnapped Sunday.

General Ruben Alzate was seized after arriving by boat in a rural part of western Colombia to inspect a civilian energy project.

Another military official and a civilian lawyer were also abducted. A soldier piloting the boat managed to escape and inform authorities.

Las Mercedes, Columbia
Las Mercedes, Columbia

The general reportedly broke protocol by traveling to the area in a civilian capacity and without bodyguards.

Negotiators for the Colombian government were preparing to fly to Havana, Cuba, Monday to take part in a new round of negotiations with members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, but Santos canceled the trip hours after the kidnappings.

The slow-moving negotiations have gone on for two years.

Search underway

Santos said troops have been sent into the area to search for the hostages, and he has contacted the International Red Cross to help secure their release.

Two other Colombian soldiers were kidnapped by FARC just last week.

FARC has kidnapped scores of civilians and soldiers for ransom during its 50-year insurgency against the Colombian government. The group pledged in 2012 to end kidnapping of civilians for ransom, but said police and military personnel would still be targeted.

Peace talks between Bogota and FARC began that same year in Havana.